Darkness and light; Ebb and Flow.

Whatever happens in my life, there is something I must always to remind myself of constantly: everything is temporary. Nothing is permanent and that does not have to be a bad thing.

 For far too long now, I have been plagued by thoughts that can only be described as dark. All the while, I have managed to be grateful for my life and all the wonderful people and things that I am surrounded by. And sometime in the last month, I got fed up with letting these dark thoughts ruin my good days.

After I forgave myself for losing a relationship with someone very important to me because of said dark thoughts, I decided I would never let that happen again.

I’m in the war of my life, at the door of my life, out of time and there’s no where to run. 

— John Mayer, War of My Life

I’ve waged a war on said dark thoughts, but this war isn’t a violent one. That wouldn’t do me any good to be at [a violent] war with myself. It’s a war because it’s serious, but my methods are only ever gentle. I’ve been abusive to myself for far too long. I’m making progress: Less than two months ago, whenever a dark thought would enter my mind it would devour me and my entire being. It would be all that I saw, and if someone or something was able to distract me briefly it would only ever succeed momentarily.
It’s been a process, and there are some days when the fight is harder than other days. The light gets brighter every day, and I’m doing well to leave traces of where I’ve been so that if I ever get drawn back by those dark thoughts I can find my way around them. I know now that being ‘plagued’ by these sort of dark thoughts is actually something that can be considered a strength.
Come again?
The way I see it, these thoughts come to me along with the good thoughts because I can see every situation from all sides. I like to think it’s one of the reasons that I’m so good with people; why I thrive as a volunteer manager; I don’t have a problem putting myself in someone else’s shoes and taking multiple steps. One problem is that I let what I see affect me too much; I allow myself to forget who I am and how fucking amazing I am.

[Sidebar: I used to think that I do this, not because I have low self-esteem, but because I am humble. I know better now].

The even bigger problem lies in the fact that I have developed a horrible habit of focusing on the negative. Mind you, it’s human nature to get stuck in the negative, but I’m pretty tired of it and I can’t help but think back to the first TED talk I truly fell in love with by Barbara Arrowsmith-Young on how she changed her brain as I continue on this journey. These resources and many others are my ammo for this war I’m in against my bad habits.
I don’t assume there won’t be darkness when the war is over; it would be naive and foolish of me to think that way. All that I want is for the darkness to stay in its corner, and leave me, and joy to spend our days together basking in the light.

An open invitation to joy

IMG_2461Life had become so negative for me. Over the last few years, life had become so negative. I don’t know when it started and I don’t know how I allowed myself to get so lost in it but it was before my last long term relationship1. 6 months after I moved out, and I’ve had plenty of time to think about what went wrong and why life seemed to have gotten so dire.

The start doesn’t matter, what happened doesn’t matter; that isn’t what I want to write about. I want to write about the change I am consciously going to will into my life this year. Currently, when something upsets me or hurts me I have this terrible habit, this awful learned behaviour to focus on the negative. Once upon a time, I was able to embrace the pain, process it and allow myself to learn what I needed to learn from the experience. That’s the healthy way to experience life, and I have been incapable of it for a while now. I know better. I know I’m capable of doing better.

I’m glad I am where I am. I’m glad I’m able to call out this problem, and know that now I can begin the journey to being2 healthier. There’s a part of me that wants to thank a certain someone for coming into my life and inspiring this change, but that wouldn’t be very fair to me. I’m extremely grateful that he’s in my life, and that he challenges me in ways that have helped me see this problem. I am making the choice to do something about it though; me. No one else can make this decision for me, and I am proud to say it from the proverbial rooftops that I am making the promise to do better this year.

So I am putting a call out to joy. My life has been lacking in joy3 for far too long, and it’s time to change that. And that change begins with me.

What changes are you going to make to your life in 2016?

  1. the one many of my friends know about []
  2. mentally []
  3. and zen []

Yes, let’s talk.

Shame. It’s a hard emotion to overcome. Our egos are strong and it doesn’t like to feel vulnerable. We’ve all felt it at one point in our lives and all of our stories are so very different. That’s why it’s so important to talk about it, no matter what you may be going through. No matter how big, nor small.

There is so much to mental illness that we don’t even know about. It isn’t just depression, it isn’t just about suicide, it isn’t about schizophrenia or murder sprees though these are the extremes that have lead us to where we are today1. There are other things that we’ve been talking about for decades, like eating disorders and milder personality disorders2. Yet there is still a lot of stigma.

Stigma is the negative stereotype and discrimination is the behaviour that results from this negative stereotype.

— source:  CMHA.

I normally disagree with the sharing of anything on social media when the motivation to do so is that some large-company-who-can-obviously-afford-to-spend-the-money will ‘donate a small amount per share’ BUT the fact is that what they’re trying to accomplish is bigger than all that.

I read something on a friend’s instagram this morning as I was browsing while still in bed and I thought it would be perfect to share. This happened yesterday in Colorado:

A 16-year old Standley Lake sophomore lit himself on fire in the school cafeteria Monday morning in what police call a suicide attempt. Nett tried to kill himself by dousing himself in oil and setting himself on fire just after 7:00 a.m.

He was taken to a local hospital where he remains in critical condition. Nett did leave a suicide note on social media saying, “This is not someone’s fault. I had this planned for years. He went on to talk about his plans and how friends over the weekend tried to talk him out of it. He finishes the note saying, “If anyone says that they know why I did this…nobody knows and nobody will.”

— source: 9news.com

My friend went on to wonder “what has happened in our society that a 16-year-old feels compelled to take his life, in such a horrific way?” That someone could ever think that death would be better than life. The thing is that sometimes everything could be right in your life, and you would still want to kill yourself. I can only hope that he finds the help he needs; I hope that he comes out of this fighting harder than he ever thought he could.

I remember how I felt when I was 16, and younger. I used to be so full of rage; I had the worst temper and I felt like I had no one to talk to. Sure I had a lot of friends, but there was something missing. I didn’t ever think that they really understood me the way they understood each other. I never tried to kill myself, but I thought about dying a lot. I’ve gotten over it for the most part, but there are some days that I still feel pretty worthless. I eventually get over it by repeating whatever phrase will get me out of that frame of mind but that doesn’t mean it’s that easy for everyone.

Teenage Dirtbag Reggy

I often wonder how I would have turned out if we hadn’t moved to Canada when I was 17. Something certainly switched when we moved here from Dubai. Hindsight tells me it has something to do with moving from a British Curriculum Catholic School in a Muslim Country to a Public School in one of the most open-minded countries in the world. Either way, whenever people ask me what it was like moving at that age – I should really tell them that I think it saved my life but they’d probably think I was just being dramatic.

Anyway, that’s enough about me. Mental health is important. People’s feelings are important. Yes, some people just need to suck it up but you don’t have to communicate that message with hatred. It is possible to be gentle while being firm3. You can give someone tough love without being a bully. Most importantly, remember that sometimes all someone ever needs is for someone else to listen.

Let’s talk, indeed.

  1. and the people who have gotten us here, we cannot forget them []
  2. OCD, ADD, etc []
  3. and not just in the bedroom, either []